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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good, and good for you!?

One of the best things about oatmeal cookies is that you can pretend that they're good for you! With all that oatmeal, it has to be healthy, right?

Yes. Let's go with that.

These are adapted from the Better Homes & Garden Cookbook.

Little cookie soldiers, all lined up.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

1 3/4 c. butter, softened to room temperature
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
2 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 bag peanut butter chips (about 1 c. or so)

I used a teaspoon-sized cookie scoop for mine. Bake for about 8-10 minutes at 375. You need to remove them to a rack to cool within a couple minutes of them leaving the oven, as they will become one with the pan if you don't.

I suppose if you want, you can leave out the cinnamon and the ground cloves.

Here's the finished product, cooling on a rack. I really am trying to take better photos. It doesn't seem to be working.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cumin-Lime-Cilantro Dressing

I don't dare claim this as an original creation. It's from Mollie Katzen's new book, Get Cooking. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are new to cooking from scratch and need a lot of direction. I also recommend it if you just like tasty food!

Cumin-Lime-Cilantro Dressing

1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 tsp. minced garlic (about 1/2 small clove)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
heaping 1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. minced cilantro leaves
6 tbsp. olive oil

Put everything into a jar with a lid, and shake.

I use an old Frappucino jar. It's the perfect size, and fits in the door of the fridge. When I made this, I doubled it. If you double it, I would recommend using slightly less oil than 12 tbsp. Taste as you go, my friends!

Menu Plan for the Week of 4/26

I am happy to say goodbye to an abnormally busy week! Whew!

barbecue from my nice neighbors (cooked the right way, with a vinegar sauce, mmmm)
veggies from my nice neighbors (God bless 'em)

leftover pasta (from the weekend)
mixed berry crisp

We're supposed to go fly kites on Wednesday, and the kids have AWANA that night. So I fear we may need to stop and pick up dinner. If we get to eat at home, it'll probably just be scrambled eggs.


pork chops
carrot souffle

bean burritos (I'll crockpot the beans on Friday.)
cilantro rice
homemade salsa

turkey breast (I didn't make it last week.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of 4/19

I did not menu plan last week, and ate spaghetti twice just to prove it! Yuck! Not that I don't like spaghetti...but I could do better.

This week is abnormally busy, even for us. The girls have their dance show on Sunday, so they have rehearsal a few nights this week. Add in baseball, softball, Tball, AWANA, and MOPS, plus homeschooling and keeping the house from looking a wreck, and you will see that I HAVE to plan this week. Otherwise, I'll be eating McDonald's. And no one wants that. Especially me.

taco salad with chicken taco meat from the freezer
homemade cumin-lime-cilantro dressing

hirino psito (I have no idea what it means, but it better be code for "tasty") pork roast

turkey breast in the crockpot

barbeque chicken in the crockpot
carrot & celery sticks

homemade pizza

a mystery crockpot day
Please send me some ideas for Saturday! I need help!

Math. I don't want to hate you.

I was not the best math student you ever met. In fact, in 11th grade, I ended up taking Algebra 2 without the trig that every other "average" student was taking. I was still lost, although I am sure the pace was better for me. My senior year, I opted not to take any math. Yeah, not the brightest decision I ever made, but, you see...I had math anxiety.

In college, I took what basically was remedial algebra. Every other "average" student took one semester to cover what I did in 2. For the first time, however, I understood math! I almost liked it! When I had to study for my math Praxis in order to become a teacher, I loved it! I sat with my little test prep book. It broke everything down step-by-step. I loved solving a problem--and actually getting it right!

I don't know where that delight has gone. I am right back to how I was in high school (minus that whole "I'll never have to know this" attitude. I know better now.). My ds, Scrappy, really excels at math. He just opens up his Math-U-See book and does it. Every once in a while he watches the video, but I think it's more procrastination for him. My dd, Funny, she's another story. I've tried Singapore Math, Math-U-See, and now we're using Saxon. And I love Saxon--for her. I think it's step-by-dull-step approach is good for her. She likes repetition and predictability, as much as it makes me want to scream.

Today, Funny decided that 12 and 21 were the same number. Before you go telling me how normal it is, please let me say that I have been telling her for over 2 years which is which. I have done every little silly game I could do. If only I could tattoo it onto her brain.

This brings me to my point: Math frustrates me! I want so badly to leave my bad attitude elsewhere when I sit down to do it. I'm out of ideas for making it fun or silly. It is what it is, and it just needs to be done. For my lovely little Funny, this is likely painful for her (as it was for me). I have a hard time not telling her that, yes, the number 0 is sad, and he would look much better if you gave him a little smile.

At what point do I have to tell her, "Some things you just do because you have to?" Is this what someone told me? How come Scrappy loves it but Funny doesn't, when they both have the same miserable teacher?

I know someone out there has amazing insight because I am too close to it to see. It's probably my fault, though. I can see that much!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The birds and the bees

We've been studying birds this year in science. Our main text is Apologia's Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, which I highly recommend. I am generally very anti-textbook, but I make an exception here. This book is incredibly well-done, and rather than skimming many topics, it delves deeply into just a few topics (birds, bats, flying dinosaurs, and flying insects). We have been learning everything we can about birds since September. Before we started this, I thought birds were just okay, but now I think they are truly fascinating and beautiful. Yet another benefit of homeschooling--Teacher is learning as well!

Some of the topics we've studied include flight (drag, lift, air pressure), types of feathers, bones, nests, identifying markers, and more. Today we read about types of flight: flapping, gliding, soaring, and briefly discussed seabirds and their special wings. We set off to the local Audubon Society at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve to see if we could catch some birds in action. And while we only saw a little flapping and gliding (and no soaring), the kids did get to see some action!

It's nesting season for the Canada geese. We saw 5 nests already being tended and while we were watching the geese (far, far away from the nests so no one was hissed at), two geese started to mimic one another. Whatever the first one did, the second followed suit. Lo and behold, birds have been known to court in this manner. The birds mated, and perhaps there will be another nest soon!

This is the mating dance. They were taking turns poking their heads under the water.

The kids identified a number of birds today using the field guide. We had a lesson a few months back about using the parts of the bird and their varying colors to identify species. It turns out they really understood it and can now use that information! I was so proud of them.

We went on a short hike through the woods where we could hear a lot of birds, but couldn't see any. I did manage to find bloodroot flowers, and I snapped a photo.

My lovely friend Heather knows all about wildflowers (at least more than I do!), but sadly, she wasn't with me today. I broke out my Wildflowers Fandex and quickly identified it!

Science has really become one of my favorite subjects!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Menu Plan for the Week of 3/5

chicken tacos with homemade guacamole

spaghetti with sausage, peppers & onions

chicken with veggies & couscous

slow-roasted pork from A Year of Slow Cooking

stir-fry with brown rice

flounder florentine

nothing yet...hoping to go to my mom's house!

I made this plan while watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, so it is veg heavy. As you may recall, I also plan breakfast and lunch (I just don't post them), but know that they are also quite healthy. And tasty. If Jamie knew, he would say, "Brilliant!"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

HNS Outdoor Hour Challenge #3

As it was a glorious day, we decided to do this challenge at a local county park, Mingo Creek. It seems to me that this park is a bit of a secret. No one is quite sure how to find it (we got lost, ourselves). It is not crowded at all. It is quiet. I am really looking forward to going back again with our waders so we can spend the whole time playing in the creek.

Here's some fungus growing all the way up a tree. Crazy. It pays to look up!

A decaying tree. We recently read A Log's Life, so it was really neat to see this log! We kicked at the log a little bit and it crumbled into dirt! It is amazing to think about the perfect circle of life (queue Lion King music please) that this represents. Death brings life, and so on and so on.

These boys (like all of the kids) adored playing with the creek. They especially loved to see what would float, and how long things would take to get back to them if they threw them upstream.

One of our more fascinating finds--shells! They look like tiny little clam shells, and they were all over the banks of the creek. Funny amassed quite a collection and she has been carrying them around in her purse, perhaps for a shell emergency?

We still haven't done the drawing part of the assignment, but it's coming soon. I'll update this post in a few days with photos of their drawings.